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Letters To The editor

March 24, 2011
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Editor''s note:

Each month, we welcome readers to opine on the noteworthy — or even the trivial — aspects of their lives as JanSan professionals.

The following is some of the correspondence we have received in recent weeks.

Streaky Coverage

After reading the article “Proposed safety standard unsafe for window cleaners” on, I wish you could have added another view on this issue.

It seems very strange that this article is so matter of fact when some of the comments made in the article are not even facts.

I have been washing windows for many years — 30 to be exact.

The fact is that any piece of equipment used for any type of work could be dangerous if the worker does not follow the safety rules.

I have been in the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for 30 years in Chicago, and I can tell you that the rope descent system (RDS) method to safely access windows has been proven to work.

I''m curious if this sentence that appeared in the story can be sourced: “Forcing window cleaners to rely on a dangerous system that has been banned in most of the industrialized world could have tragic consequences.”

Each type of equipment has its place for window washing.

Thank You for letting me comment.

— Steve Hamel of Donald Hamel Window Cleaning Company.

I was forwarded the article reporting on the SEIU representatives'' testimony at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hearing on RDS, and I must object to the one-sided and apparently unresearched content.

The opinions put forth in this article do not represent the experiences of window cleaners throughout the United States, Canada, most European nations and Japan who are familiar with various types of suspended systems — including RDS, swing stage and permanent installations.

Instead, it is a diatribe based upon the self-interest of the powered platform manufacturers in conjunction with their apparent influence on the SEIU representatives.

Had information from other, informed sources been sought, it would have been discovered that many of the statements were incorrect and that the stand of the SEIU is very much opposite to that of the majority of window cleaners.

To balance the dis-information being put forth by the SEIU in this article, I suggest that the International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) be given the opportunity to respond with a factual statement based upon real statistics and experience.

— Pamela Dedden of Dedden''s Window Cleaning Inc.

I was also at the OSHA hearing when the people mentioned in the article you published testified.

The information presented to OSHA proves that the claims by the union were based on a lack of facts.

My company has safely been using RDS for 35 years.

In fact, 85 percent of the window cleaning in the U.S. is done with RDS — with no deaths in 2010 and very few in the last 20 years.

— Tara Smarr, president of Martin''s Window Cleaning Corporation.

Be Prepared

With flu season here, as well as recent reports of swine flu spreading across Europe, we are reminded of the unique challenges faced by facilities managers to help prevent the spread of germs in the workplace.

Last year, a survey conducted by Staples Advantage found that 65 percent of the workforce comes into the office when they are sick.

Additionally, 80 percent of these workers only clean their workspace once a week or less.

Armed with this knowledge, facilities managers need to be more proactive than ever in order to maintain a healthy building environment.

The spread of germs leading to the flu can be minimized by utilizing a cleaner/disinfectant registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for all human touch points on a regularly scheduled basis.

EPA-registered disinfectants will have full directions for use on their label and come in a variety of packaging options that include disinfectant wipes, which have proven to be popular with workers for use in their own workspaces.

Make sure you are adequately supplied in advance with the proper disinfectant, hand sanitizers and facial tissues for your office.

— Lisa Hamblet, vice president of Staples Facility Solutions.

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